Former DPS officer Letuli pleads guilty to possession of "Ice"
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the DPS officers, who was assigned to the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Tafuna and arrested last April for various crimes including bringing drugs into the facility entered into a plea agreement with the government yesterday.
Alofagia Letuli, who is still in custody unable to post a $50,000 surety bond, was initially charged with 3 counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit: methamphetamine; 3 counts of permitting escape — all class D felonies — and 2 misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
But under a plea agreement, Letuli will plead guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine, and the remaining charges will be dismissed, if she complies with conditions of the plea agreement.
With her guilty plea, Letuli admits that between April 1 and July 31, 2016 while working at the JDC as a police officer, she unlawfully possessed a controlled substance without legal authority or justification.
One of the conditions mentioned in the plea bargain requires Letuli to be a witness in the government's case against her two co-defendants — Okesene Alo and Olataga Wilson — who are set to go to trial.
The "Drug Incident in JDC by On-Duty Officers" report, obtained by Samoa News, details allegations against the four defendants for “illegal activities prohibited by law”.
There are four defendants in total. The cases against Alo, Wilson, and Letuli are now in High Court, while the case against the fourth defendant, Junior Utuga, is still in the District Court. He is facing misdemeanor charges.
The names of the officers are listed on the first page of the report, which also explains in detail the role of officers in the illegal activities, as well as interviews with juveniles conducted by the supervisor.
It’s alleged in the report that former juvenile detainees returned to the JDC to carry out illegal activities.
One of the juveniles mentioned in the report told the JDC supervisor that he saw Letuli smoking ice while in the bathroom and the kitchen. The report further states that Letuli allowed another juvenile to drive police unit #51 inside the JDC compound.
It's alleged that Letuli locked the juvenile inside a cell when an unknown vehicle entered the JDC at night, and she'd spend 2- 3 hours with the driver of the vehicle. The juvenile was only released from the cell after the vehicle left the JDC compound.
Another juvenile detainee is quoted in the report saying, “He has been smoking ice for approximately 5 months at the Center.” The detainee claims that one of the officers “brought in ice a lot of times, that he lost count”.
The report provides 17 specific points of concern raised by the supervisor, including that the juveniles were allegedly “coerced” by one of the officers to “call friends and family members in the late hours of the night to get money to buy the ‘ice'."
Officers bribed and stole from the parents of the juveniles, asking them to bring money to buy necessities for the juveniles when it was really intended to buy the drugs, according to one point of concern in the report, which added that “Officers allowed juveniles to watch x-rated movies unsupervised.”
Letuli has been remanded to custody to await sentencing.
Unable to post bond, Alo and Wilson are also behind bars, awaiting their trial date.
Deputy Public Defender Michael White is the attorney for the defendant while assistant attorney general Christy Dunn is prosecuting the case.